Today In History 9/1: Ric Flair Regains WWF Championship, Jerry Lawler Hit By Car On TV, & Much More

* 36 years ago in 1979, WWE claims that Pat Patterson won a tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to become the first ever WWF Intercontinental Champion. Eventually, they said Patterson, then the reigning WWF North American Champion, had defeated South American Champion Antonino Rocca. Of course, this never actually happened. They just wanted to change the name to something more prestigious sounding and made up a tournament that's become one of wrestling's longest tenured running jokes. As for the North American Title, Patterson lost it t Seiji Sakaguchi on a NJPW show. That was, of course, not in North America.


* 29 years ago on Labor Day 1986, Championship Wrestling from Florida produced the live Battle of the Blts III special, which was syndicated live throughout the country from the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. This was the last show in the series, which was the first involvement that ROH's Joe Koff had in the wrestling business (he helped produce and syndicate the shows). As the name suggests, the cards were loaded with title matches, culminating in a NWA World Heavyweight Championship defense. Here, Ric Flair drew Lex Luger in their first major meeting to retain the NWA title. Instead of the usual Flair draw, this was a best two out of three falls match where each fall had a 20 minute time limit. So all that really happened was that the third fall was a draw after they split the first two.


With the Florida office on death's door, the rest was a mixed bag and a step down from even the previous special earlier in the year. Aside from The Fabulous Ones defeating The Sheepherders (Bushwhackers) t retain the United States Tag Team Titles, there was a serious stardom or talent imbalance in the other major match. Most notably, AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel defeated Kendo Nagasaki by disqualification, and The Road Warriors fought the Zambia Express to a double disqualification.

* 25 years ago in 1990, Jerry Lawler shot one of his most legendary angles live at the WMC-TV studio in Memphis, Tennessee. During an episode of USWA Championship Wrestling, Eddie and Doug Gilbert, who were feuding with Lawler, were fired as part of an angle. When Lawler went to see them off, Eddie hit him with a car. Really.

What Lawler meant to do was jump and roll over the hood, but in practice, with a convincingly speeding car, that was easier said than done, so, well...he actually got hit by a car. It was scary to watch, though he cleared the car enough to not have life-threatening injuries. In fact, it was so convincing that a LOT of fans called the police. What should have been a hot angle was ruined when they had to keep the Gilberts out of jail. Lawler returned later in the show to make it clear to the cops that he was OK...and made a point to say he'd get revenge at the Mid-South Coliseum two days later. Crowds had been increasing with Gilbert as booker and top heel, but the angle being neutered to save his freedom drove attendance down in Memphis.


* 23 years ago in 1992, the WWF ran a very eventful post-SummerSlam Superstars taping at Hersheypark Arena in Hershey, PA. The big story was that in for the first time, they switched the WWF Championship at a regular TV taping.

Ric Flair defeated Randy Savage to regain the WWF Championship in a really odd match. While Flair and Savage normally had excellent chemistry, the match was a complete disaster,. Flair had disregarded VInce McMahon's instructions for how the story of the match would go, and eventually, it broke down to the point that the match was stopped "to restore order." They went back to the locker room, McMahon set everyone straight, and they started over from scratch. Flair worked over Savage's injured knee, Razor Ramon interfered to make matters worse, and Flair got the win by pinning Savage with the figure four leglock. The second version aired a couple weeks later on PRime Time Wrestling.

Also on the taping, Yokozuna made his WWF debut...sort of. On commentary during The Headshrinkers' matches, there head been a handful of allusions to a third, even bigger Headshrinker debuting soon. That was Rodney Anoa'i as Kokina, winning a squash match that never aired. Instead, he was repackaged as Yokozuna and debuted a month later at the taping where Bret Hart won the WWF Championship from Flair. On one hand, he got an instant top heel push. On the other, he gained weight to look the part of a sumo wrestler, which put him on the path that eventually cut his life short.


Paul Diamond, who had been wrestling as Kato of the Orient Express as well as himself in a jobber role, was repackaged as the masked Comet Kid. This was the gimmick that became Max Moon. The gimmick had originally been developed for Konnan under various different names, but he and the WWF split when he realized he was better of sticking around as a headliner in Mexico. Diamond said he could fit in the outfit (he could) and do all of the same moves (he couldn't), so he inherited the costume. However, the most expensive part of the gimmick, the functional, rocket-shooting, robot exoskeleton for entrances, was dropped.